Thursday, 16 June 2016

Naren - the state of being

Remembering Naren - That state of being we all need to reach.

When I would get up at five, I would see him on the table with his reading glasses on, typing a note on the old typewriter. It would be a response on MS Swaminathan's recommendation for farmers. Or a note to the Human Rights commission about some dalit atrocity in the district. He would usually leave by the first village bus on the painstaking work of documenting village by village all the lands that needed to be redistributed to the poor - bhoodan lands, ceiling surplus lands. Or on Mondays to sit with the Joint Collector reviewing all these. Or on the land with the people plowing and claiming the lands. He would be back home by the last village bus at 9:30 pm. Uma would be left handling all the farmwork at home, all the processing of the produce. Midnight he would get a call sometimes regarding some SC violation and leave, taking the green towel.
And whenever anyone needed his time - an old uncle wanting his feet massaged, Allakavva in Dalitwada needing a kind word and medicines, a lady sufferring from Parkinsons needing her weekly supply of medicines, the dhobi waiting for him when he returned home at 10 p.m. to ask for mangoes in mango season - each was given the time and complete attention with the same unruffled smile. As if only they and their need mattered at that moment.


He left at the age of 55. In 2009.




... Old women from Dalitwada used to come to Naren and say 'Nuvvu devudu' ('You are God.')
For that, they used to get a gentle knock on their heads, and that unforgettable, unforgiveable laugh, wound ring out - the laugh of a person who has totally dismissed himself from his own mind.
In the middle of his endless works across the district from identifying ceiling surplus lands for distribution, to occupying lands claimed by the poor, to attending SC atrocities under the HRF, to poring over various recommendations on farmer's issues at 4 in the morning with his reading glasses on- he used to have time to attend to the illness of every old man and woman in the next hamlet Dalitwada, and sit and press their feet, and make sure he bought the medicines they needed.
I have never seen a frown on that much beloved face. He passed away when he was 55.


...   Harmony of thought, word and deed. Harmony of the public and the private. Harmony of the personal and the political.

When I was looking for a village to settle down, I first went to this place XXX where friends were based. There was a drink party that night, because from the next day 'prohibition would be imposed, and there could be no parties'. This was an NGO that had participated in the anti liquor movement.
I left the very next day, for my next stop - Naren and Uma, Paalaguttapalle. Naren had been intrinsic to the entire movement with the people of the village, and the district. Broken liquor stills. And personal temperance was built into the public position. And that was my final stop ... and its 20 years today. Naren passed on 5 years ago, aged 55.

No comments:

Post a Comment